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Art Rooney’s comments regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s contract alters the Steelers’ NFL Draft plans

The Pittsburgh Steelers franchise quarterback wants to continue playing, and this will alter the team’s NFL Draft plans, at least for this year.

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Since the 2016 season ended, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been wondering when the day would come they wouldn’t have Ben Roethlisberger under center for the black-and-gold. After all, it was after the team’s AFC Championship loss to the Patriots when Roethlisberger started talking about longevity, and whether he wanted to continue to play.

With Roethlisberger throwing around retirement talk, many assumed the team should start to address the quarterback position via free agency, or through the NFL Draft. However, through several sources, and most recently team president Art Rooney II, the talk is Roethlisberger wants to not just play out his current contract, but play beyond it.

“We haven’t had a long conversation about that other than him saying he is interested in playing beyond his contract,” Rooney told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s good news to me, and his play this year certainly makes you feel like he does have a few years left in him.”

The Steelers traditionally look to re-do Roethlisberger’s contract with two years remaining, but the last time they gave No. 7 a new deal he had only one year left on his contract. Nonetheless, this isn’t important to Rooney.

“We have a great relationship with Ben. We’ll talk through things. The important thing is he wants to be here, and he wants to continue to play beyond the contract.”

This is part of a much larger picture which involves an extension for Roethlisberger to ease the salary cap hit he is due in 2018, but it also means the man isn’t done playing the game yet.

So, with Roethlisberger telling the team owner he wants to play 2, maybe 3, more seasons, it completely alters the team’s draft philosophy — at least in 2018. With Roethlisberger committed for the short-term, the team doesn’t need to draft a quarterback in the upcoming draft. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t, it just means they don’t have to out of necessity.

Landry Jones is still under contract, and the organization spent a fourth round draft pick on Joshua Dobbs last year, giving them their quarterback hierarchy for the foreseeable future. Unless a very good quarterback falls to Pittsburgh in the mid-to-late rounds, which never happens due to the over-drafting of quarterbacks, the Steelers will likely go without signing a quarterback this year.

And to be quite honest, fans should be happy the team isn’t going to be looking to add a quarterback, because that means Roethlisberger will remain in the fold, and that usually equates to success.